Incremental Information Content of the Change in the Percent of Production Added to Inventory
Posted: 16 Oct 1996
Manufacturing firms can manipulate income by producing in excess of the quantity needed to meet current period demand, thereby allocating part of current period fixed manufacturing overhead costs from cost of goods sold to inventory. Since it is subject to manipulation, the component of earnings due to producing in excess of sales may be of lower quality than the remaining component of earnings. We investigate this possibility using a regression of security returns on unexpected income and an estimate of the change in percent of production added to inventory (CPAI). An analytical model indicates that CPAI determines the "earnings surprise" subject to manipulation by overproducing. Assuming the market recognizes this, the coefficient on CPAI should be negative since this low quality component must be deducted from the total "good news" conveyed by the change in reported earnings. Alternatively, CPAI may convey good or bad news to the market that is unrelated to the manipulation of current period earnings. Firms may increase the percent of production added to inventory in anticipation of high levels of future sales. In this case, the estimated coefficient on CPAI should be positive. Or if the increase in the percent of production added to inventory reflects anticipation of a strike or an unexpected downturn in current sales, the estimated coefficient should be negative. Cross-sectional tests using a large sample of manufacturing firms indicate a significant positive relation between security returns and CPAI. This is consistent with market participants viewing CPAI as a leading indicator of firm performance. While the results are most supportive of CPAI conveying good news, there is some evidence that CPAI is used by managers to smooth earnings and, for firms classified as smoothing earnings, there is weak evidence that the component of earnings related to CPAI is viewed by market participants to be of lower quality.
JEL Classification: M41, M11, L60, G12
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation